A little history

The name Molise first appears in late Medieval times as that of a Norman earldom, itself derived from that of a castle, Molise, which today is a small village between Torella and Duronia. At the time of its greatest expansion, the earldom extended as far as the rivers Volturno, Trigno, and Fortore, and up to the Matese mountains and the Adriatic. During the 10th century, the Byzantines and the Lombards contested the territory which, in the following century, constituted the collection of earldoms which were to face the Norman invasion. Towards the middle of the century, the single Norman earldom of Molise was set up, its main centre being Boiano, absorbing the counties of Isernia and Venafro and a large part of the Borelli territory which came under the jurisdiction of the Norman count Rodolfo. Under Ugo I, the earl in 1095, the boundary of the earldom was extended to the upper valley of the Volturno. By the middle of the 12th.century, Molise was the strongest and most far reaching continental state of the monarchy. On the death of Ugo II (1168) the earldom was conferred on Riccardo of Mandra and then, at the beginning of the 13th century, came under the rule of the earls of Celano. Soon, though, the Molise earldom became extinguished as a feudal unit, its lands becoming integrated at first with the areas of Terra di Lavoro, then to the Capitanata up to 1807, when it became an autonomous province with Campobasso as its main town. It was eventually annexed into the Italian kingdom. This territory’s history is not renowned for the splendour of its courts. Consequently, Molise’s traditions are bound up with its populace as is the extent of its cuisine.